Vocation Profile - Carmelite Nuns, Monastery of Mary, Mother of Grace
Carmelite Nuns, Monastery of Mary, Mother of Grace
The vocation of the Discalced Carmelite Nun is both unique and vital to the life of the Church. Though hidden from the eyes of the world, its outreach knows no limits. Simply, but profoundly, prayer is our vocation and mission. The Teresian Carmelite, contemplative life combines both silence and solitude with the familial spirit of Community life. These “little colleges of Christ” now span the globe.
The writings and lives of our Carmelite Saints speak most eloquently of the Carmelite Charism:
Our Holy Mother St. Teresa of Jesus exhorted her daughters “to be such” that their lives might be fruitful for the Church. The reform brought about by St. Teresa began within the context of the Protestant Reformation. “At that time news reached me of the harm being done in France. . . . The news distressed me greatly and, as though I could do something about it or were something, I cried to the Lord and begged Him that I might remedy so much evil.” St. Teresa initiated the Discalced Carmelite reform with the desire that the nuns would be great friends of God and offer their lives to pray for the good of the Church and especially for priests. Thus she instilled a new apostolic ardor into the lives and mission of her Carmels.
St. Therese of Lisieux described her Carmelite vocation within the mystical Body of Christ: “I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was burning with love.” Herein lies the particular mission of the Carmelite: to be part of the living, beating heart of the Church, giving life to all of the members. Similarly, St. Theresa Margaret Redi, a Carmelite Nun from Italy, lived her vocation in Carmel: " hidden with Christ in God.”
For Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, Carmelite life is “a continual communion with God from morning until night and from night until morning.”
Fr. Anastasio Ballestrero, whose cause for beatification has just been opened, once wrote that “the Carmelite doesn’t just pray, she is prayer.” He also emphasized the age-old Carmelite tradition: “Carmel is all Mary’s.” Mary is the perfect contemplative and the model of consecration for all Carmelites.
St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) said that the Carmelite life and mission can be compared to that of St. Elijah: “To stand before the face of the living God—that is our vocation.” “Look at the Crucified,” she said. “If you are bound to him by the faithful observance of your holy vows, your being is precious blood. Bound to him, you are omnipresent as he is. . . . You can be at all fronts, wherever there is grief, in the power of the cross. Your compassionate love takes you everywhere, this love from the divine heart. Its precious blood is poured everywhere—soothing, healing, saving.” The efficaciousness of Carmel is unlimited: “It is a fountain of grace that bubbles over everything—we do not know where it goes, and the people whom it reaches do not know from whence it comes.”
And St. John of the Cross wrote: “One pure act of love is more precious in God’s sight and is of more value to the Church than all others put together.” The Carmelite Nun’s mission of contemplative prayer and love is thus of great value and is much needed in our world today.
Candidates should be persons of prayer who aspire to the perfection of charity and to detachment from the world, so that they may be able to embrace our way of life, in which a deeply solitary communion with God is closely united to a sisterly life together in community. They should have an ability to understand and a willingness to be formed in our way of life. They should have good physical and psychological health which is essential for a life of strict enclosure.
Formation begins with a one-year postulancy. The novitiate is two years without vows and three to six years with temporary vows before solemn (final) vows are taken.